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July 02, 2018 - GruntVegan


New evidence of crow intelligence

New evidence of crow intelligence

Crows are known to be smart birds. But their intelligence continues to surprise researchers. 

A small pacific island, is home to New Caledonian crows that can make and use tools.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, adds still more evidence for the problem-solving skills of these birds. The researchers set up a “vending machine” that can be operating by putting a piece of paper of a certain size into a slot, which would then release a single treat. The crows quickly learned how to use the vending machine to get food. They then gave the crows paper, but not the right size for the vending machine. They also had no reference for how big to make the paper, they only had their memory of prior use. 

The question for the researchers was – could the crows fashion the paper into the right size and shape for the vending machine purely from memory? 

They did, without any problem.

Watch the YouTube video: Crow shapes paper tool to activate a vending machine.

The test designed by Dr Sarah Jelbert, from University of Cambridge, was created to delve into the birds' cognitive abilities. She wanted to see them learning something new. The idea was to create a task unlike anything crows would find in nature. 

Dr Jelbert said the birds were revealing that there could be "many different ways that evolution can produce intelligent behaviour."

Why does this matter? 

The most interesting aspect of this research is in terms of understanding animal intelligence and intelligence in general. We tend to use human intelligence as the generic example of "intelligence" but in fact there are many evolutionary paths that intelligence can take. "Dr Jelbert explained that the birds do not appear to pay attention to or to copy one another's behaviour in the way that a human child might copy a teacher or parent." 

"Delving into these questions shows us that our way is not the only way. And I find that quite humbling." 


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